The White Rose

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We too are God’s baptized, beloved, blood-bought believers. And no one can ever take that away from us.

The Christian life begins and ends with a promise. It begins with the words, “I baptize you in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” It ends with the words, “I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.”

As we embark upon the Christian life this Epiphany season, we do so with the promise, presence, and peace of mind that the Almighty and All-powerful God of all creation is also our God. He is Yahweh Immanuel, God with us and God for us. He is the God who makes promises and keeps them. He is the God who loves us and cares for us and is never going to let us go. He is the God who, by grace through faith in his Son, makes us his baptized, beloved, blood-bought believers.

Hans and Sophie Scholl were young Lutheran university students in Munich who were growing up in the midst of Nazi Germany. As teenagers in the 1930’s, things seemed to be going pretty well. They were members of youth organizations that promoted health, citizenship, and the great outdoors. But through a series of events, they began to get wise to what was really going on under the leadership of Hitler and as a result of Nazism in their country. In 1942, along with some of their Christian friends, they created the Resistance of the White Rose. They got together to share information, promote freedom, and to warn people of what was to come.

They wrote, published, and sent out leaflets - first in Munich, then in Bavaria, and eventually all over Germany. They were quite creative with their efforts and were successful in getting their message out. But they were finally caught in the act while dropping leaflets from a second floor balcony at the University of Berlin. They were arrested, charged, and sentenced to death.

What courage and commitment young Hans and Sophie displayed in the face of great evil. What was behind it all? What gave them such strength and resilience? No one knows exactly why they named their group “The White Rose.” But I have a pretty good idea. Hans and Sophie were baptized Christians, and they no doubt knew about Luther’s seal, or Luther’s rose.

Here is how Luther himself explained the picture of a rose which has become synonymous with Lutheranism: 

There is a black cross in a heart that remains its natural color red. This is to remind us that it is faith in the Crucified One that saves us. Anyone who believes from the heart will be justified. It is a black cross, which mortifies and causes pain, but it leaves the heart its natural color. It doesn’t destroy us, it does not kill us but keeps us alive, for the just shall live by faith in the Son of God.  The heart should stand in the middle of a white rose. This is to show that faith gives joy, comfort, and peace. It puts the believer into a white, pure, and joyous rose. Faith does not give peace and joy like the world gives. This is why the rose must be white and not red. White is the color of the spirits and the angels. This white rose should stand in a sky-blue field, symbolizing that a joyful spirit and faith is a beginning of heavenly joy, which begins now, but is grasped in hope, not yet fully revealed. Around the field of blue is a golden ring to symbolize that blessedness in heaven lasts forever and has no end. Heavenly blessedness is exquisite, beyond all earthly joy and better than any temporal possessions, as gold is the most valuable of all precious metals.

As baptized believers by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ, Hans and Sophie had a promise and a peace and a presence that was always with them no matter what. We too are God’s baptized, beloved, blood-bought believers. And no one can ever take that away from us. 

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39).

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